Purposeful Faith

Tag - peace

3 Ways to Stay Close to God (& 10 Faith-Squeezers)

Stay Close to God

I love God. I love him a lot. So, why do a whole bunch of common things, seem to draw me away so easily? Not all these things, in themselves, are bad. Many are not damaging. Almost all, are not sinful, and perhaps this is just the problem. They go undetected as their current moves me out.

Do you feel yourself slowly drifting?

What normally goes undetected as it floats you miles off?

10 Faith-Squeezers that are Likely Happening in your Day:

– Going gangbusters on family activities
– Getting caught up with life’s incidentals
– Becoming all wrapped up with another person
– Planting my face on TV, iPhone or iPad
– Driving like a routined robot on a schedule
– Expecting things to happen
– Getting frustrated when they don’t
– Allowing anxiety and worry to seep in as a result.
– Letting the monotony of life, make me monotonous

When we float by the tides of life’s demands,
we sink into a rip-current that seemingly sends us miles from God.

So, how do we stay, as we always were? How do we stay on fire?

3 Tips To Stay Wild About Your First Love:

1. Put God first – and keep him there!

Just the other day, I was outside. I was taking a second to bask in the wonder of Spring budding. I was observing. Until, someone called my attention away. They needed me. I couldn’t say no. I felt awkward saying, in a random moment, “Hey, I’ll get back to you in a bit, I am spending time with God.” Sometimes, our need to please gets in the way, of our need for God. It doesn’t mean, we shouldn’t value those we most value, but it means we must always value God first.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

Apply this:

– Set aside time with God, and reserve that as his.
– Devote your first portion to God in the morning. Wake up and be with him.
– Ponder God’s Word throughout your day.

2. Experience him.

When I am in my car, sometimes the most restorative thing I can do, is worship. It is my time to turn up the music, to focus my mind and to literally see Jesus as the music plays. Whether it is in a car, at your house or on a 5-minute walk, Jesus is always waiting. Experience the fullness of his life, death and resurrection. When you find yourself in the center of God’s amazing, it is hard not to more and more drawn to it.

Apply this:

– Turn on worship music.
– Observe nature on a walk and thank him for his creation.
– Close your eyes and see Jesus, hear his words and ponder his parables of old.

3. Ask.

I used to tell my brother (yes, I was the bossy oldest child of six), “You don’t receive, because you ask not.”

I don’t have any idea who says something like this, but apparently – I did! But, I can’t help but think how often this is the case with us. In our relationship with God, we often ask not and then we get not. It’s not that he doesn’t want to give, but just that it is hard to force a giant gift into someone’s hands that are closed. Are your hands closed?

When we ask, we sending God a message of acknowledgement
that he is provider, sustainer and giver; his reply often – confirms it.

Apply this:

– Say, “God, I want you first of all and above all.”
– Ask again, all day long as things go wrong – and right.
– Ask for wisdom on how to respond to those who bang into you.
– Ask for a mind set on all things Spirit.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7

God has not left you, most likely, you have left God. But, be not discouraged, you are raising your arms, pulling together your strength – and with these three tips – are well on your way to swimming back to him.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Prayer with the Power to Work

Thank you God

My prayers kind of remind myself of a puppy pining from next to a table. I kind of look up all puppy-dog eyed and beg for scraps.

Do you?

It looks like this:

Day 1: “Please God. Help me God. Do this thing_________________!”

Day 2: “Please God. Help me God. Do this thing_________________!”

Day 3: “Please God. Help me God. Do this thing_________________!”

Day 4: “I really need this. I need it right now… “Hey God, maybe you don’t really want to do it, but please do it anyway.”

Day 5: “God, do you hear me? I need it….” I wonder, does God really hear me and love me?

Day 6: Silence. I say nothing. What is the use?!

Day 7: I give up hope in praying.

The more I beg and get fed, the more I keep up the begging, but if the master doesn’t hand me any good food, I start wondering why I am forgotten. I start wondering why I am next to his table when he can’t even see me.

I start asking, “What is the use?”

A wound sets in and I keep licking it…
No answers. And deeper it burns.
Roadblocks. The more it stings.
Discouraged faith. The infection sets in.

After walking around like this for a while, I am coming to think: Sometimes, God lets our wounds sit wounded, so that we can see how wounded we are without a right view of him.

Clarity sets in: I really feel abandoned.
A new prayer takes form: Let me see your love.
God’s prompting arises: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer an supplication to God, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

Answers appear: You may be praying, but you are hardly thanking.

In an instant, what feels broken suddenly gets mending, because what I remember is God is always working. He doesn’t have to speak, or appear or provide some emotional answer, but as I pray he is working.

Why else would he tell us to thank him when we pray.  For when we ask, he then takes it on.  We can at that point thank him for what he is working out.

Will it always look like we expect? No.

Will it tend to end up better than that? Quite often.

Will we end up looking more and more like Christ? Yes.

And that is worth giving thanks over.

Thanks that sounds like this:

Thank you that you hear me God.
Thank you God that this is now in your hands and you have it.
Thank you God that you are for me.
Thank you God that you know best.
Thank you God that you will never desert me to my destruction-ending plans.
Thank you God that you are always leading me to the better way.
Thank you God that you have a Christ-like vision for my heart.
Thank You God that everyday I can trust that you see me and want me.

How might your perspective change if you just said thanks?

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Be Like A Bird & Find Bounty

be like a bird

I watched them from my window – little things plucking around on the ground.

“How do they do it?” I thought.

Casually they grazed, moved and explored. Even though there were nearly a dozen, still, they didn’t bump each other. They didn’t fight for a grain of food. They didn’t seem to lose their joy. Storms, concerns and cold-fronts, from my observations, were worries not for this day.

They just relaxed. They just were.

Did they know a great, gracious and giving God was in charge?

I couldn’t help but think they did.

Two jumped up and began a light-hearted chase.
A coupled bounced up to the height of tall trees.
One sung by the waterside.

It seemed they choose to see life appeared as an fun adventure, where the present moment was full of blessed surprises. These birds inspired me to new thinking.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Mt. 6:26

How do we live?

Do we look at the world through the eyes of God’s bounty
or eyes of inequity?

Where resources are limited and good things elude us?

To see bounty, is to have a perspective like this:
God sees.
He decides.
He provides.
He has so much.
He pours out.
There is a never-ending supply.
He delights in giving.
He loves our thanks.
He rejoices over our freedom.
He personally goes before us.
He gives so much it overflows to the poor.

We live not in a faltering economy, but in God’s economy.

It is an economy of faith. One where we may not know where our next grain or gain is coming from. One where we may feel like we are about to go under. One where circumstances get shaky. But, it is also an economy where daddy is the chief strategist – the man in charge. He loves nepotism and we are his and he is ours. He will take care of us.

Do you rely on the chief strategist in a way where
you believe he only hands out his best intentions
?

Enter the forest of bounty. It is verdant and vibrant. It is all you need and all you could ever want. It is the place where you are taken care of and known.

Believe in the bounty that awaits, even for a small one like you; God will take care of you.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

5 Experiential Invitations to Go Deeper With God

Go Deeper
God. If you look for him, you’ll find him. If you keep looking for him, you will find him some more. If you don’t stop looking, he’ll invite you in deeper and deeper, fuller and fuller and farther and farther.
He invites you.
Do you notice the welcome?
It is a white owl taking flight into the darkness,
a place where you are not sure what will happen.
Are you willing to go?
We don’t have to know where we’re going, just that Christ is taking us.
deeper
Another invitation.
He stands by the water,
arms open,
ready to hug you,
ready to feel your complete innocence, purity and beauty.
Will you allow him to hold you this way?
Will you accept it as true?  

It is often by faith, we receive the fullness of his love.

going deeper
It arrives again.
You may not see it.
You may not notice it.
It sits right outside your window.
The colors are brilliant, the majesty spreads across the sky;
it reminds all of the orchestrator and creator of things big and small.
Will you take a second to look or will you continue to be rushed and busy with other things?
By keeping an eye on the one above our trial, we remember how all things work out under his might.
going deeper
He calls.  
Will you open your heart?
It’s another invitation.
Daddy waits…
Hoping beloved breaks out to run to him.
Seeing a grand return and his glorious rescue.
He doesn’t need strong; he loves weary; he can handle it.
Do you see him waiting to rescue and love you every minute?
 
In every weary and heart-wrecking task, God waits to rescue you time and time again. Will we accept his invitation?
Go deeper
He knocks,
in a way where it nags your soul.
You know you should, but can you? Can you open up?
Surely, it is an invitation, but will you permit it to be so?
For it hurts far more than it feels good to do.
Still, daddy, he is pushing you just a little to step out.
Will you listen or ignore?
Will you forgive or forget and pretend it never happened – like you always do?
He wants to do it for you. He wants to finally unclutter your heart of it’s bitterness to make room for his fullness.
We think our unforgiveness is right, but only one is right and that is Jesus and he says to forgive.
going deeper
The invitations they never end for those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear.
It is a symphony of sympathy that plays the most desired harmony of humanity.
Yet, if you are busy, you’ll drive right past it.
If you are worried, your mind will not have space to receive it.
If you are distracted, you will blab on your phone, rather than hear his whisper.
It is an invitation for those who want more.
Who call out more.
Who long more.
Who ask more.
Who need more.
Who desire more.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

6 Reasons Why You Can Now Wait Well

Wait Well

Have you ever considered that life is just made up of a series of waits?

You wait to get through school.
You wait to find a spouse.
You wait to hear back from that job.
You wait to know if it is cancer.
You wait to see if your dreams ever will come true.
You wait with hope that a person might do something differently.
You wait and wonder if you will be rejected again.
You wait to go to heaven.
You wait and then you wait some more, nearly agonizing over every moment.

Waiting feels like grueling torture. It feels like a good God went into hiding. It feels like waiting for a hand-out from one who may not. It feels like doors shut. It feels like mountains unscalable. It feels uncertain. It feels like agony. It feels like…if-I-have-to-go-through-this-one-more-time-I-am-gonna…!

Why does a good God torture us?

Even more, why does he seem to love every minute of it?!

Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually. Hos. 12:6

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. Ps. 27:14

Wait. He says. Wait again, he says. Wait well. Wait with courage. Wait with strength.

God knows something, we don’t often consider: Waiting is our wrestling ground with faith. It is here, where a believer gets on the mat, dukes it out and gets down to the heart of the situation, “Will I really believe?” 

It is here where one rises up in victory, arms to the sky,
saying, “He is good. He has me. I trust” or
where they fall to the ground saying, “Curse God and die.”

Which way to do things tend to play out in your life?

Do you rise to trust a working God or do you fall
to your own strategies, plans, executions and wounds? 

God is not preparing us for nothing, he is preparing us for his everything.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation My God will hear me. Mi. 7:7

The more we need God, the more we call on God. 
The more we call on God, the more we lean on God.
The more we lean on God, the more we find God. 
The more we find God, the more we rejoice in his greater gift.

We start to explode with greater vision. It transcends just the here and now, but it reaches out a hand to eternity to clip it and draw it near.

Things like this happen to waiters who are also trusters:

1. They want outta here! They rely on the eternal joy that sits just over the finish line called life.
…even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23

2. They end up hoping in the right thing, rather than their demanded thing.
And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Ps. 39:7

3. They sit and see that the Lord is always fighting for them.
Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. Ps. 33:20

4. They see God doesn’t give them their best answers, but his.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Ps. 19:21

5. They look back and see, that far beyond what they wanted, was what God wanted. They see that they look a whole bunch more like Jesus.
…knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope… Romans 5:4

6. All of a sudden they see God’s huge dump truck show up. It backs up and unloads, dumping in far greater weights of love than they ever expected.
…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:4

Are you a waiter and a truster or a hater and agonizer? Lean in. Lay back. Let go. Find hope. Great hope. Life-breathing hope…

Hope is waiting and believing – God will.
Hope is knowing he is able – and we are not.
Hope is calling out in prayer and believing.
Hope is knowing God is above our situation rather than smothered and struggling under it.
Hope is knowing his best plan is above ours.
Hope is knowing his nature sees and cares.
Hope is standing confident his timing could not be better.
Hope is moving forward with joy.
Hope is finding peace.
Hope is leaning back and laying down into God’s love.
Hope is not listening to outside voices, but Jesus’.
Hope is not devising and strategizing.
Hope is the greater expectation of God’s exaltation in our lives.
Hope is the grain of longing for that greater thing he’s doing.
Hope is seeing past feelings to the very being of Jesus that is being formed in us.

..those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31

That is hope; it is otherwise known as “waiting and believing well.”

May we do it.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

5 Ways God Cares (More Than You Think)

God Cares

I stared out the window. The outside was about ready to teach my insides a deep lesson.

What caught my eyes were two birds frolicking, jumping and having fun. They didn’t care; they chased, played and enjoyed the beauty of the day. Before not too long, a few friends even joined in. Life seemed to be a blessing not a burden.

I think they had no idea of when the next storm was approaching, but all they same, it didn’t seem to matter.

They didn’t seem worried about what they didn’t have;
they just went about enjoying what they did.

 

What is it you don’t yet have?

What is it that distracts your eyes from beauty?

I know it’s crazy, but wonder if somehow birds have an understanding that we don’t, like:

1. God’s nature is to forever take care of me. It is impossible for him not too.

2. Every season eventually ends and God provides. I will trust that.

3. God is who he is. Just as he makes the sun come up every morning and the moon fall, he will be true to his word.

4. I don’t have to fear I’ll be hungry for my next best thing, God remains my best thing.

5. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

I want to be like these birds – free to fly high. Soaring. Enjoying. Living.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

I try to store away so much: 

Stress.
I fill myself with action plans.

Fear.
I load up on maneuvers to self-protect.

Distraction.
I let it divert my mind from what God wants to heal.

Frustration.
I let my storehouse get shaky because God hasn’t yet shown up.

What do you store in your barn?

When we fill our barns to the brink, we always feel about to sink.
But, when we trust that God will provide the next meal, we are ready to fly. 

We break out of molds. We rise up from our nest. We don’t think about the next storm. We approach the edge of our safety and we jump out to dance in the air of providence.

We remember his voice of faithfulness, the “I will take care of you” voice. We hear it rise to its heights.

It sounds like:

1. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15

2. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

3. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

4. And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… (Ex. 14:13)

5. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

God is calling us to delight in the gap between of uncertainty and his next big gift. Will we?

Will we choose to delight in his faithfulness or die in ungratefulness?

I don’t want to settle for second worst when I have second best. What I want to do is run, jump and fly with God to the places he has set to take me. Care to join me?

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here. 

3 Steps: From Pain to Peace

Pain to Peace

Guest Post: By Lisa Murray

It was the tipping point.  The beginning of the fall.  No, it wasn’t a crash, a sudden impact dive that you didn’t see coming.  I saw this coming.  I could feel it making its way toward me and yet, I was entirely helpless to stop it.

It was a slow, distinct unraveling.  That moment where you can feel the wheels teetering ever so slightly out of balance until the whole thing comes unhinged.  My heart, that is.

This was the season of my undoing.

I was quite certain I had never planned for this.  My life was a well-structured agenda of fortitude, perseverance, accomplishments.  They needed me in some misconstrued way, yet I needed them more.

From my earliest memories, I can recall that feeling, deep in my bones, that insane and horrific gnawing that I was not enough.  That I would have to prove myself.  I needed to be special.  I needed to feel worthy.  Loved.

I heard people say,
If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything.

I believed them.

So I set my face like flint against the wind, I measured my sails, and I set out to prove my worth to the world.

Whatever it takes, that was my motto.

Whether that meant hours of studying or practicing to be good enough.  Whether it meant endless miles running wrapped in plastic wrap to be skinny enough, I did it.  That was me.

I thought there would be some point where I arrived.  Where I would attain.  Where I would be enough.

Yet, inside I knew there was something adrift.  If I was quiet enough, I could hear the tremors begin to quake. I felt the muffled pangs just beneath the surface.

I told myself,
Just keep pushing and everything will turn out fine.

So I kept pushing.  I pushed real good for awhile.  I achieved what many said I’d never achieve.  Nobody noticed the foundation beginning to crumble around me.  I noticed.

I wanted to be healed.  I longed to know what wholeness felt like.  I craved peace more than anything I could imagine.

That must be for someone else, I thought,
but it must not be for me.

I often felt like the woman in Scripture reaching out, desperate to touch the threads that lined the hem of Jesus’ robe.  Surely if I could touch Him, she must have thought, then I would be healed(Mark 5:21-34)

I understood the longing of the blind man, who day after day, hoped and prayed that he would one day see.  How could he have known his Savior, his Healer would come with a little clay and a little spit near the pool of Siloam and give him everything he’d ever hoped for.  How? (John 9:1-12)

I could see myself like Peter, shivering in the waves and wind as he stepped out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee.  If only I had enough fortitude to keep my eyes on Jesus, I could have walked on water without sinking beneath the waves of doubt and fear that pulled me under.  (Matthew 14:22-33)

And then my healing came.  Not in the way you’d expect.  Jesus ushered me into a sacred place.  A sacred season.  Jesus led me to this season of healing and He never let go.

I heard Him whisper to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

I needed rest.

God gave me rest and He gave me so much more.  Over the years of my healing journey, I discovered an abundance that was more than I had ever imagined.  God was showing me how to build and live a life of peace.  It was all I had ever hoped for.  Longed for.  To breathe.  To feel solid and sure.  To experience wholeness.  To experience abundance.  Physical abundance, spiritual abundance, emotional abundance.

3 Ways To Walk From Pain to Peace

  1. Embrace Maximized HOPE! – Without a doubt your hope lies first and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is your foundation spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  As you learn to appropriate His hope, His healing into the emotional area of your life, you will experience the fullness, the abundance of hope He promises.

Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

  1. Discover Complete WHOLENESS! – God wants you to be not only healed, but whole. God doesn’t want his children limping through life, barely surviving.  He wants you to thrive.  He wants you to discover your unique calling, your passion and purpose so that you can make a difference for His kingdom.  As individuals become whole, the entire body of Christ becomes whole.

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) tells us that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

  1. Enjoy Enduring HARMONY! – You were not meant to live in chaos.  Your relationships were never supposed to be a rollercoaster of pain and disappointment.  God wants us to learn how to foster peace and strength in our relationships so that we can enjoy them without being dependent on them for our happiness or wellbeing.

Romans 15:5-6 (AMP) shares, “Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

This is the life God has for you.  Don’t settle for anything less than Maximized Hope, Complete Wholeness and Enduring Harmony.  In my book, Peace for a Lifetime – Embracing a Life of Hope, Wholeness, and Harmony through Emotional Abundance, I walk with readers through whatever season of life they are in, and lay out simple, practical life-steps that will help them find healing and will nurture abundance in every area of their lives.

You don’t have to keep trying so hard to prove your worth.  You don’t have to keep pushing, hoping that everything will turn out okay.  Healing isn’t just for someone else.  Healing is for you.

Jesus is whispering to you, Come to me…

Will you come to Him today?  Will you accept the peace He has for you?  Will you let Him walk you from your season of pain right into His peace?

You can experience the love for which you long.
You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.
You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.

You can experience peace —for a lifetime.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

About Lisa Murray

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.09.48 AMLisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife.  Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life.  While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.

 

 

About Peace for a Lifetime

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.09.38 AMIn her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and others. Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize you can experience peace, not just for today, but you can experience peace —for a lifetime

 

Find Peace for a Lifetime on Amazon.com.
Watch the Book Trailer.
Join Lisa’s Thunderclap campaign.

Miss This View of Faith & You’ll Miss So Much

View of Faith

Don’t forget, because this is vital:
Live your life in a way where you can look back and say – for Jesus – I did everything I could.
Not because you had to, but because you wanted to…
Not because you were earning something, but because you were loving the one thing.

Do it, so that one day you see yourself:
Victorious, dressed in white (Rev. 3:5)
Acknowledged, not blotted out, before Father God and his angels. (Rev. 3:6)
Seated with Jesus, just as Jesus is seated with the Father (Rev. 3:21)

How do you practically live like this? What does this mean for you and me?

It means we hear beyond the sound and the thrills and the notifications of this world. It means we have ears to hear (Rev. 3:6) what God most desires. It means we focus on the limited running of time, the blip that is our life, to see the ongoing riches of the cross.

We stay eternally minded, and remember, we are earthly endangered.

He is “coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev. 3:11)
What we have is eternity.

The victorious become part of the temple of God (Rev. 3:12).
Will that be you? Will that be me?

I don’t want to be so lost in this world, that I lose the greater vision of God that will endure forever. I don’t want to bow down to  stress and anxiety only to stand up and realize that I missed greatness, glory and holy. I don’t want to get it all here, and miss it all there.

Do you know what I mean?

There is no hidden agenda or secret formula. The path is clear.
Here’s what it looks like to be a type that can look back and say, “I did everything I could”:

1. Wake up! (Rev. 3:2)
2. “Strengthen what remains and is about to die” – leave no good deed unfinished. (Rev. 3:2)
3. Remember what you have received and heard; hold it fast. (Rev. 3:3)
4. Turn yourself back to face Christ. (Rev. 3:3)
5.  Be ready. I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev. 3:3)

He is coming not to hurt us, but to love us.
Not to tear apart believers, but to keep them.

He encourages our heart (Jo. 16:33) with the force of heaven.
The Spirit pleads (Ro. 8:26)  for our win and Jesus does as well (1 Jo. 2:1).
Don’t give up.
Don’t lose hope.
It is a race.
We are winning.
God is for us.
He is helping
We are not alone.
He will lift us when we fall low.
He will guide us when we don’t know where to go.
So, put a stake in the ground and declare,
“Jesus, again, I hand it all to you. I am all in.”

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Standing firm in Faith Over Fear

Standing Firm

Occasionally, you know you met someone with a heart of gold – this is how I feel about Gwen Smith. Her all-in pursuit of Jesus, her authentic spirit and her ability to instantly connect, as both a teacher and a girlfriend, is a gift that is so unique to her. I have gotten a chance to deep dive into her new book, “I Want It All” and her words have helped me grab hold of the fullness of God’s extraordinary that he has uniquely carved out for me. Thanks Gwen.

I am delighted to welcome Gwen Smith to Purposeful Faith. I hope you will too. 

Post by: Gwen Smith

The book of Esther shows us what our lives can look like when we trust in the sovereignty of God and expect Him to be powerful in the midst of desperate circumstances that could cause us to cower in fear. God positioned this young Hebrew girl to be queen of Persia so that she could rise up in His strength and courage when her people, the Jews, faced imminent death. She fasted and humbled herself before the Lord through prayer. And though it was risky to the point of death, she went to the king and courageously spoke up on behalf of the Jews. The result? God used Esther to save her people from genocide.

I want to be brave like that. I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. So I take note of what Esther did. She didn’t cave in to fear; instead, she fixed her focus on God and His power to save her and His people. She fasted and prayed and asked for Him to intervene.

Like Queen Esther, we can live with great expectations of God because He loves to do amazing things through average people— people with worries and warts and weaknesses, like you and me. If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.

So… how CAN we stand firm in faith like Esther
did when our knees knock?

The first step to standing firm in faith is to know Him.

Generally speaking, I don’t trust someone I don’t know. Plain and simple. I’m guessing you don’t either.

God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of our knowing Him:

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he under- stands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23–24 ESV)

The apostle Peter also wrote about the importance of knowing God. At the beginning of his first letter, he stated that the grace, peace, and power we need are connected to our knowledge of Christ:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:2–3)

How can you know God? Read your Bible, study His character, and remember the ways He has delivered in the past. Such things are Faith 101. When you are overwhelmed by life, don’t shy away from God. Don’t isolate: investigate. Look to Him. Explore His goodness.

I learned recently about the familiar “trust God” verses in Proverbs 3. You know them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6 ESV).

The second part never made sense to me. I wondered, Why would my acknowledging God motivate Him to make my paths straight? In the New Testament, even the demons acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, so why would my acknowledging Him make my paths straight?

I looked up the root word and found a gold mine. The Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is yada’,1 the primitive root of which means “to know.” It means “to understand, to grasp or ascertain; especially to be familiar or acquainted with.” So, “in all of your ways acknowledge him” really means this: in all of your ways yada’ Him; in all of your ways know Him and seek to understand Him; be familiar with Him; be acquainted with Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Ah! Clarity!

The key to a straight path, the key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.

When we’re intimately familiar with God, when we don’t just know about Him but really know Him, the most crooked roads we travel are made straight. Not because life is easy. Sifting through emotions like anger, depression, hopelessness, insecurity, and so on is hard stuff! But because when we know God, we know all of this as well:

His STRENGTH that is accessible in our weakness

His COMFORT that meets us as we mourn

His MERCY that withholds the punishment our depravity readily deserves

His PEACE that defies our unrest

His JOY that kisses the cheeks of our sorrow

His COURAGE that makes our weary hearts brave and casts away fears

His REDEMPTION that reworks our brokenness into beauty

His LOVE that binds us to eternity and delights over us with singing

Even when the one-two punches come and feelings are frazzled, I can confidently trust God by faith. Not because I understand all the circumstances, or even like them, but because I know Him. And because I know Him, I can trust that He will provide all I need to process pains, heal from wounds, and move forward in strength, grace, and peace.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Gwen Smith, author of I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact, (March 1, 2016, David C Cook) unapologetically urges her readers to want more. “You and I were born for greatness,” Smith writes. “Not for the world’s greatness, but for eternal greatness: to know God and showcase God.”

Standing firm

Smith is quick to say that she is not saying more is better. More may include setbacks, more may include being misunderstood and discouraged, and more may include suffering. But more also means knowing God more deeply, even in the midst of pain. The deepest question behind this search for more from God is this: Do I trust Jesus? Smith helps readers explore this question in light of disappointment and unmet expectations in life.

Pre-order today: I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact; it is 40% OFF… plus, Amazon is offering a $5 coupon (found under Special Offers section)! This means, you get a book that retails at $16.99 for only $5.11.

More on I Want It All:

About Gwen:

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.47.00 PMGwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three tall, competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen’s new book, I Want It All, (David C. Cook) released on March 1, 2016. She speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a cofounder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.

CHANCE TO WIN: Bloggers & readers, Gwen will be selecting one of you at random to win her books and music. Support Gwen today:

    1. Join her Thunderclap!
    2. Share this post.
    3. Tweet the below tweets or Facebook updates about “I Want It All”!

Tweet: I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall http://ctt.ec/ezUl_+

Tweet: We can live w/ great expectations of God bc He loves to do amazing things thru average people @GwenSmithMusic http://ctt.ec/Yg3cU+

Tweet: “The key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances & way more about my God.” @GwenSmithMusic

Facebook: “If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.” @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall

Facebook: “The key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.” @GwenSmithMusic #iwantitall http://amzn.to/1Tk179P

 Loading InLinkz ...

How to Really Fight Back using the Sword of the Spirit

Sword of the Spirit

What do you do when something terrible, horrible and life-impacting happens –
especially when you are sinking into fear and anxiety?

This is what I was asked as my hard work disappeared before my very eyes. This is what I was asked as my progress was erased. This is what I asked as I thought about the myriad of things flipping, flopping and dying right my very eyes.

In this reflective moment, in the pause right before the full tsunami of tension hit, I had a choice:
Would I stand in the power of God or would I fall to the power of fear?

Ever stood here?

This moment, it is a critical one. If you leave nothing filling that second, you will inevitably succumb to distrust. If you leave it untended by God, you will certainly feel alone. And if you leave it empty, you no doubt fill it with endless thoughts of preposterous scenarios. But, if fill it with truth and life and warrior words, you will wage war – and win –  against what intended to take you down.

Here is how it works: Read a portion of scripture (we will use Psalm 62), personalize it and speak it aloud. Choose to believe it. Believe it over your body, believe it over every relationship that hurts, believe it over your finances, believe it over your family, believe it over you heart, believe it over your discouragement and believe it over anything that is coming against.

When you let the good yeast of God’s truth, rise above the lies –
you find it squeezes out worry.

Psalm 62

My soul finds rest in you, God;
you are my salvation.
You are my only rock and my salvation;
you are my fortress, I will not be shaken..(Psalm 62:1-2)…

My soul, finds rest in you God;
my hope comes from you.
You are my rock and my salvation;
you are my fortress, I will not be shaken.
All my salvation and my honor depend on you, God;
you are my mighty rock, my refuge.
I trust in you at all times, every single time;
I pour out my heart to you,
God, you are my our refuge.

I am but a breath,
Nothing, only a breath.
I will not put vain hope in stolen goods;
I will not make riches the center of my life
nor will I set my heart on them.

For I know:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward me
according to what I have done.” (Psalm 62: 5-12)

The more Gods’ Word sits in,
the more thoughts of negativity and disaster are forced to move out.

It simply works like this: You speak it, you believe it and because you believe it, you live it.

The answer to oncoming attacks and injuries is not to wait for the blow to knock you over, it’s to step into it on offense, with the Sword of the Spirit in motion so you can slay what Christ Jesus has already beaten. This doesn’t mean that every single predicament is fixed and tidied up, but what it does mean is every predicament is seen through the power of God’s eyes.

God wants to give us spiritual clarity and he wants to help us fight our battles.

What might God want to slay if you gave his Word a chance to fight on your behalf?

God is your rock, your fortress and your refuge – in him, you cannot be shaken.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.